The NBA season is right around the corner and the Indiana Pacers 2013 NBA Championship Odds are currently at 40-1 ($100 bet pays $4200). They are 18-1 to win the Eastern Conference and their over/under season win total projection is 50,5. Below is the overall season preview by Pregame Pro André Gomes.
After reaching the Playoffs for the first time in five seasons, the Pacers had high expectations for the last season. The interim Coach Frank Vogel was confirmed as the team’s Head Coach for the future and the Pacers managed to sign on free agency the veteran David West for two seasons. With the same structure plus a former All-star player, Indiana wanted to become one of the best teams in the East.
2011-12 Regular Season Numbers:
The Pacers were the 3rd best team in the East during the regular season, mostly due to a very good start of the season and a very good end of the season, while being in the top 10 of the three most relevant stats: offense, defense and rebounding.
The way the Pacers were an efficient team on offense was weird because they were one of the worst teams in the league in FG% by being #25 in the league with just 43.8% FG! However, Indiana compensated that by committing a low number of turnovers, being one of the best teams in grabbing offensive rebounds and they were also one of the teams that went the most to the free throw line.
Indiana Pacers month-by-month record:
Coach Frank Vogel decided pretty much to use the same starting lineup the whole season, with the only change being George Hill replacing an injured Darren Collison. In fact, from all the starting lineups in the league, the combination Collison – George – Granger – West – Hibbert was by the far the lineup that most minutes played together with 985.97 minutes, while having a good overall rating of +9.51! As soon as Collison got injured, Hill entered the lineup and the numbers were even better, so it wasn’t a surprise that Vogel continued using Hill in the starting lineup, even after Collison recovered from the injury. This new starting lineup had an even better rating of +16.69!
In the playoffs, the Pacers had the easy task of facing Orlando in the first round, who were without an injured Dwight Howard. They took advantage of that and easily advanced to the second round of the playoffs. In the conference semi finals, they faced Miami and they were in an excellent position in the series after winning a road game and having won the third game of the series at home while Chris Bosh got injured. But then, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade decided the series in favor of the Heat by winning three games in a row. The conclusions we can take from Indiana in the playoffs is that their starting lineup had once again impressive numbers, with a 113.55 offensive rate and a defensive rate of 94.12 for a net gain of +19.43!
Offseason moves 2012-13:
The Pacers decided to maintain their starting five that finished last season, something that made Darren Collison dispensable. Indiana traded him to Dallas and got in exchange the center Ian Mahinmi. For Collison’s position, the Pacers acquired in free agency the ex-Charlotte PG D. J. Augustin.
Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee via draft were also additions to the team’s roster, making the Pacers one of the teams that less roster changes had during this offseason.
Continuity is the key word
The Pacers were the team in the league that most minutes gave to their starting lineup and with a lot of success, so it’s perfectly normal that their plans for this season reside in doing basically the same.
From the starting lineup, only David West is more than 30 years old, so it’s normal that the team keeps investing on their players’ development. West had an excellent impact in both ends of the floor on this first season in Indiana. Their numbers weren’t as good as they used to be in New Orleans, as he didn’t need to do that and the Pacers kept saving West during the whole season – over the last six seasons, West played at least 34 minutes per game, but in Indiana, he played just 29.2 minutes per game.
West was also a good complement to Hibbert, who is coming from his best season ever and his first All Star appearance.
Hibbert has been dealing with stamina problems during his career, but he improved last season by playing a career high of 29.8 minutes per game. Hibbert has also improved his numbers in FG%, points, rebounds and blocks per game. His game is based on post up plays, but Hibbert curiously shot more from 3-9 feet (4.3 FGA) than at the rim (3.8 FGA), something weird considering his playing style. However, Hibbert was incredibly efficient by shooting from that area with 51.1% FG, so the Pacers aren’t worry with Hibbert’s shooting volume from 3-9 feet.
This breakthrough from Hibbert and West in the frontcourt meant that Danny Granger has less importance in the team and these were actually good news for Indiana, as Granger isn’t the “franchise player” the Pacers tried to make him a few seasons ago. In fact, Granger had his worst season ever in FG% with just 41.6% FG and still the Pacers had their best season since Granger is in Indiana. Granger was one of the reasons why the Pacers had one of the worst marks in the league in FG%. With the opponents giving more attention to Hibbert and West this season, there is no reason why Granger won’t have a better season this year.
In terms of the backcourt, the duo Paul George and George Hill worked very well in team’s system. Paul George has taken the role of being the team’s starting SG, but these two players need to be more consistent on offense because defensively and in terms of intensiveness, Coach Vogel is certainly very happy with the performance of these two players.
The greatest curiosity about this team is to know how will the second unit play this season. Last season the second unit was undersized in the frontcourt and the Pacers wanted to solve that by acquiring Ian Mahinmi and drafting Miles Plumlee in the draft. For the backcourt, D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green are now in Indiana to give them more depth.
With Derrick Rose’s injury, the Pacers have a good opportunity of winning the Central Division. Only the Bulls should be competitive against the Pacers on this division, so Indiana will have 12 divisional games against lowly teams.
The team’s structure is the same from last season and with an offensive improvement from their backcourt, the Pacers will be a much more dangerous team this season. They are a very athletic team and they were present in the top 10 in the three most important categories last season, so if they manage to do the same this season, then the Pacers will once again have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs this season.
Follow Andre Gomes on Twitter @GomesCapper
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